I remember after my very first calligraphy workshop and holding a calligraphy pen in my hand for the first time, I was literally dreaming out it all night that night.
I get asked ALL the time about how I learned calligraphy. I actually learned it very quickly and I was super lucky to learn the way that I did and with the instructor that I did.
In this post, I’m going to tell you how I learned, how I practiced, and how I think you should learn and go about it the same way that I did.
First Things First…
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Rather watch than read? No problem! You can watch and listen to me explain how I learned calligraphy in real-time by clicking the video below!
Let’s Get Started!
It was November 2015, and I was working at a job I liked but wasn’t super creative. I had always been super crafty and loved making handmade cards and stuff. One day a friend of mine sent me a link to an Instagram post she thought I’d be interested in. It was by this woman named Joanne who taught art workshops, and she had an upcoming calligraphy workshop.
For some reason, that just tickled my fancy. LOL
I begged (literally BEGGED) a couple friends to sign-up with me, and a few weeks later, I was sitting at Joanne’s dining room table with a pointed pen in my hands.
For those of you who have been around for a while, you probably know which Joanne I’m talking about: Joanne Lauzon. She’s been on my YouTube Channel before, and we’ve even written an entire course together.
Yep – she’s the one who taught me calligraphy!
I remember having the pointed pen in my hand and the pot of ink in front of me at that workshop and feeling totally overwhelmed because it looked really weird. But Joanne, being the amazing teacher that she is, broke it all down in such a perfect way, and it kicked off my calligraphy obsession.
I want to go over what we did in that first workshop because I think it’s still super valuable.
First, we learned about how calligraphy tools work.
So whether or not you’re using a pointed pen or brush pens, the key is that the tool has a flexible tip. The flexible tip is how you achieve the thin and thick lines you see in calligraphy (you add and relieve pressure to achieve the different thicknesses). She taught all of that as our foundation. Thin lines and thick lines. Pressure and release.
Cool, yeah. I understood that.
Next, we learned how to actually set-up the tools.
I actually juuuuust did a post on this if you want an in-detail explanation of all of this.
This is a step I would have 100% screwed up if I didn’t have someone experienced explaining how to set it all up correctly.
Then, we spent the majority of the workshop time going through and working on the “basic strokes”.
This part seriously blew my mind at the beginning. Joanne taught as that modern calligraphy is actually broken up into basic strokes. They look they this:
And once you actually learn the basic strokes, they build up your entire alphabet. You don’t actually need super nice handwriting to write nice in calligraphy. This threw me off at first because I have pretty nice hand writing when I try to make it nice, and I thought it would give me a leg up with writing in calligraphy. It didn’t. I had no idea basic strokes were a thing and that they were used so heavily in modern calligraphy.
We seriously spent like two hours learning and practicing the basic strokes.
Then at the end, she showed us how to take those basic strokes, stick them together, and create the alphabet.
I remember being SO glad that she taught us that way because I knew exactly what I needed to practice to get better: the basic strokes! I would have never practiced that way if I hadn’t taken the workshop first. I would have started immediately by learning words and gotten really frustrated along the way.
So I did just that – I practiced the basic strokes. A lot. Over and over and over again. Lines and lines and lines of basic strokes. I remember practicing one night at the table, and Ryan looked at me with a weird look on his face. And he kept asking, “So when are you going to do real letters? That’s not very impressive, Bec.” So I just kept doing lines and lines and lines of the basic strokes so that when I did eventually start doing letters and words, they would be pretty freaking good right away. The more consistent your basic strokes are, the more consistent your alphabet will be.
I was seriously SO glad that Joanne drilled that into my head from the very beginning. It seriously blew my mind back then, and I’m still so grateful she taught me the way she did. I was able to get so much better so quickly all because of my focus on and practice of the basic strokes.
And if you’ve been following me for a long time, you probably know where this is going…
Because this process of learning the basic strokes is something I thought the world needed to know. I feel like most people, including me back then, think the best way to learn calligraphy is seeing other people’s pretty writing and trying to copy it. Because I specifically remember doing just that. And sure, it can work if you’re copying an exact word.
But so many people are completely missing this first step: the basic strokes. It’s the crucial foundation you need to know for learning modern calligraphy. I had no idea the basic strokes even existed until Joanne taught me. So I decided to start telling the world about it and start teaching it myself.
And I did just that. I created my free beginners course, Show Me Your Drills, literally just to teach people the basics of calligraphy. It’s free. I teach you exactly what I learned up front. What supplies you need, how to use them, how to practice your basic strokes to get really good at calligraphy quickly.
If that sounds like something you’re into, I’d love to have you in the course!
You can find all of it at showmeyourdrills.com
I’ve been teaching these drills for over five years now and have taught over 150,000 students in that time! Everyone has that mind blown moment I got from Joanne. 🙂
And that’s a wrap!
I hope you enjoyed hearing my story. If you want to learn more about Show Me Your Drills, check out this post!
Hope to see you over in the Show Me Your Drills course!
And finally, your dad joke…
Wanna hear a joke about paper?
Never mind—it’s tearable.